Auctioneer Fast-Talks His Way Into Success at Fundraisers

Photo by Melissa Kobe/ OUTLOOK Sean Endicott leads the live auction at the recent Kidspace Circle of Friends benefit. After 12 years working events for Pasadena schools and organizations, the auctioneer has become a stalwart of the local nonprofit community.
Photo by Melissa Kobe/ OUTLOOK
Sean Endicott leads the live auction at the recent Kidspace Circle of Friends benefit. After 12 years working events for Pasadena schools and organizations, the auctioneer has become a stalwart of the local nonprofit community.

If you’ve been to a live charity auction in the Pasadena area lately, there’s a good chance that the man behind the microphone was Sean Endicott. Over the past 12 years, the fast-talking, upbeat auctioneer has cemented himself as the go-to guy for many local schools and nonprofits’ major fundraising events, gaining as much praise for his charismatic personality as his ability to move high-end auction items at top dollar.
With 23 years of auctioneering experience under his belt, Endicott is something of an industry veteran — and a third-generation auctioneer in his own family. In 1993, he and his business partner, Damon Casatico, co-founded Charity Benefit Auctions, which through word of mouth has grown its business to some 130 events in California and around the country each year. Of the 40 or so auctions Endicott personally works each year, Pasadena-based events account for roughly a quarter.
“The Pasadena community really knows how to throw a great party, and when you throw a great party, you throw a great fundraiser,” Endicott said. “When we work these events, we want people to have such a great time that they’re not even thinking twice about giving for that cause, and we come with a team of auctioneers who all work together to create that environment.”
After working his first Pasadena event at a school fundraiser 11 years ago, Endicott soon found his niche, building a reputation among clients for his professional and personable approach to fundraising.
“Sean is a true partner from start to
finish, and I don’t mean from the start of the auction the night of the event,” said Shelly Schroth, director of advancement at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy. The school has used
Endicott and Charity Benefit Auctions for six events in the past six years, and he will head its upcoming gala auction again in May. “He works closely with clients from the very beginning planning stages for the entire event, offering counsel on everything from the best live auction items to when to serve dessert!”
The secret to Endicott’s success lies in preparation and a deep sense of pride in the work he does. Before every auction, he meets with his team to discuss the event and the organization and researches each of the items he will be selling. He becomes fully invested, not only in raising as much money as possible for each of his clients, but in the causes and needs that drive that fundraising for each of the organizations he works with.
“The more you know, the better job you can do,” said Endicott. “You’ve got to be able to know your items and know your crowd, but most importantly, you need to be genuine. Anybody can talk fast, but a true auctioneer really knows what he’s there for.”
“He really understands the nonprofit world. He understands the goal and why the auction matters,” said Tim Peters, executive director of Door of Hope. He worked with Endicott for the first time after hiring him for Door of Hope’s recent sports memorabilia auction, the largest fundraising effort in the organization’s history. Thanks in part to Endicott’s skillful command of the live auction, the event was a huge success, grossing more than $150,000 for Door of Hope and the homeless families it serves.
“He was really purposeful and added a lot of energy to the room,” Peters said. “He wasn’t just reading a script, but he engaged with people from table to table, identifying people who were bidding and encouraging them to go higher. Everything was bid on and everything went for maximum value.”
“He knows how to work the audience,” said Dimple Bhasin, who co-chaired Kidspace Circle of Friends’ recent ’80s-themed benefit. With a changing whimsical theme and outlandish attire encouraged each year, the annual event has been known to get a bit rowdy, making Endicott’s high-energy style a perfect match for the crowd. “It’s a fun party, so people are eating and drinking and talking and it gets kind of wild, but he still knows how to get the audience and the auction moving. He’s upbeat and fast and he just makes it very exciting.”
When it comes to the bottom line, Endicott handles auctions with lightning efficiency. With him and his team at the helm, event organizers can confidently avoid the long, dragging auctions that potential donors dread. By keeping his audience entertained and engaged, Endicott maintains complete control of the room until the last item is sold.
His confidence, quick wit and stage presence may suggest a background in the performing arts, but surprisingly, Endicott is not an actor or a comedian. Nor does he require vocal warm-ups before unleashing his mile-a-minute delivery — though he concedes some auctioneers do. No, Endicott is simply a man who loves what he does.
“My dad always said if you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life,” Endicott said. “You can hear a pin drop right before I say ‘sold’ at some of these events. When you have more than a thousand people in a room and not one person is speaking and they’re watching the bidding, you’re doing your job and you’re putting on a show for the people. I guess I love putting on a show.”
For more information on Sean Endicott and Charity Benefit Auctions, visit
charitybenefitauctions.com.

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